‘It wasn’t my battle with Messi – how could I be at war with him?’: LaLiga president Javier Tebas hits back at claims he personally tried to stop the Barcelona star leaving the Nou Camp so the league wouldn’t lose prestige
- Lionel Messi made a U-turn on his decision to leave Barcelona this summer
- His lawyers disputed with the club over whether his release clause was active
- LaLiga released a statement siding with the club over the player’s £630m clause
- President Javier Tebas has shut down claims that he tried to stop Messi leaving
LaLiga president Javier Tebas has slammed claims that he personally tried to stop Lionel Messi from leaving Barcelona.
Messi announced he was going to stay despite being unhappy with life at the Nou Camp, after previously sending a burofax to the club announcing of his intention to leave.
There was a clause in the 33-year-old’s contract that allowed him to leave but that lapsed at the end of May.
Lionel Messi and Barcelona disputed whether his £630m release clause was still active
LaLiga president Javier Tebas has disputed claims he tried to stop Messi from leaving the club
Messi and his representatives argued that it should have been extended to the end of August due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However LaLiga released a statement confirming that the £630m release clause was still active.
LaLiga president Javier Tebas has given an interview to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera about their stance over Messi’s contract.
He said: ‘As a league we must defend the rules and promote justice: they must respect the contracts. Always. Whether you’re called Messi or Pepito Perez.’
‘I personally don’t see it as a battle with Messi and his team. I’ve got a special appreciation for Leo, I love him, and the history he’s created in our football over the last 20 years. How could I be at war with him?
‘I repeat, my intervention was only so that contracts were respected. But it’s clear that with Leo being involved, the media turned it into a giant story.’
There had been claims that LaLiga were ensuring they didn’t lose the league’s biggest star
Messi’s departure would have followed the disappointment of Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2018 exit
There had been claims that LaLiga were doing what they could to make sure the league’s biggest superstar remained at the club after already losing Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018.
Messi returned to training on Monday for the first-time since performing a dramatic U-turn over his future.
The training session marked the first time that he and new coach Ronald Koeman have worked together on the pitch since the Dutchman took the reins at the club, which has been in crisis ever since the 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
During his interview, Tebas insisted that Messi’s buyout clause is still valid but his future past the end of his contract which expires next summer, will be up to the player.
He said: ‘Although his lawyers say the opposite, the contract is clear. In the end, I’m happy Messi will avoid a legal battle.
‘He’ll continue playing for the club of his dreams. I hope their relationship goes back to normal.
Messi returned to training on Monday afternoon for the first time since announcing he will stay
‘That will be his decision (whether he decides to leave), the contact allows that to happen.’
The 33-year-old superstar gave up his fight to leave Barcelona for Manchester City last Friday, breaking his silence to reveal that he would stay put because he did not want to have a court battle with the club over his disputed €700million (£630m) release clause.
He told Goal: ‘I am going to continue in the club because the president (Josep Bartomeu) told me that the only way to leave was to pay the 700million clause, that that is impossible, and then the only other way was to go to court.
‘I would never go to court against Barca because it is the club that I love, that gave me everything since I arrived, it is the club of my life, I have made my life here.’
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